Going to Mazar – Afghanistan’s sex trade in the birthplace of Rumi

Bryan Denton for The New York Times – Palusha, with young relatives, is a former prostitute who started an embroidery and sewing operation in her home in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Mazar-i-Sharif – The birthplace of Rumi is now the centre for sex starved Afghan men to go and release their sexual energies. Afghan women host clients in a network of apartments across the city. Alcohol is available for a price. Some years ago there were no cellphones or internet. Now with this technology in place the business is picking up.

  • Married at age 13, Aziza Jan turned to prostitution after her husband divorced her several years ago and left her to support six children, she said. Her family has no money to assist her, and her children are too young to work.
  • With a round face and an easy laugh, Aziza, 35, lives in a lavender-colored compound on a quiet street. She hosts her clients in a front parlor that is covered in carpets and pillows, with a wood-fired stove and a TV in a corner.
  •  Fereshta, a 25-year-old mother of three, said her life had begun to fall apart when her husband lost his construction job more than five years ago.They were forced from their home and now inhabit a shell of a building with no windows or doors and struggle to feed themselves. To survive, she said, she felt that prostituting herself was the best option, given that women are rarely allowed to work in Afghanistan.
  • She learned about the business from her friends, who charge $30 to $60 for their services. She described a network similar to the one described by others: Customers call a contact, who then arranges a meeting at the customer’s house or the woman’s house. Her clients are most often single, middle-class men with money to spare.
  • “We never answer the calls of people we don’t know,” she said. “They have to have a solid reference.”Without the money, her family may starve. And yet if her husband were to discover what she does to put food on the table, the consequences would be dire.
  • “I’m forced to do this,” she said. “If my husband finds out, he will kill me. But what choice do I have?”

Why is it that women and children are always sexually abused by men?